Laser generated ultrasound systems have historically been more complicated and expensive than conventional piezoelectric based systems, and this fact has relegated the acceptance of laser based systems to niche applications for which piezoelectric based systems are less suitable. Lowering system costs, while improving throughput, increasing ultrasound signal levels, and improving signal-to-noise are goals which will help increase the general acceptance of laser based ultrasound. One current limitation with conventional laser generated ultrasound is a material s damage threshold limit. Increasing the optical power to generate more signal eventually damages the material being tested due to rapid, high heating. Generation limitations for laser based ultrasound suggests the use of pulse modulation techniques as an alternate generation method. Pulse modulation techniques can spread the laser energy over time or space, thus reducing laser power densities and minimizing damage. Previous experiments by various organizations using spatial or temporal pulse modulation have been shown to generate detectable surface, plate, and bulk ultrasonic waves with narrow frequency bandwidths . Using narrow frequency bandwidths improved signal detectability, but required the use of expensive and powerful lasers and opto-electronic systems. The use of a laser diode to generate ultrasound is attractive because of its low cost, small size, light weight, simple optics and modulation capability. The use of pulse compression techniques should allow certain types of laser diodes to produce usable ultrasonic signals. The method also does not need to be limited to narrow frequency bandwidths. The method demonstrated here uses a low power laser diode (approximately 150 mW) that is modulated by controlling the diode s drive current and the resulting signal is recovered by cross correlation. A potential application for this system which is briefly demonstrated is in detecting signals in thick composite materials where attenuation is high and signal amplitude and bandwidth are at a premium.